Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel and What the Meta Calls For — Flying Pikachu VMAX

Hello to all PokeBeach readers! Gabriel here again with another Pokemon TCG article and this time I’m going to talk about the deck that won the North American International Championships (NAIC), Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel with Flying Pikachu VMAX!

We recently had two major Pokemon TCG tournaments taking place in the US, one was the Milwaukee Regional Championships and the other was the NAIC. Thanks to these two tournaments, it is already possible to have a good idea of ​​which decks to expect for the Pokemon TCG World Championships in London. The decks that stood out in these last few competitions are just three: Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR / Inteleon, Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon, and Mew VMAX. This metagame, focused on just these three decks, surprised me a lot as the format has a lot of options and for most of the season we had a broader metagame. Not too surprising, the champion decks of these two tournaments were not one of those three decks, but decks with a good matchup deck against them. In Milwaukee it was Blissey V / Miltank that won, while Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX won the NAIC.

I don’t know how it works in other card games, but in the Pokemon TCG when a metagame is too predictable, it’s common for an under-the-radar deck to stand out to win the tournament. This game has always allowed most of the time to adapt your deck or create a new strategy to beat those decks that seem impossible to win. Mew VMAX is there to prove it, it seemed unbeatable in the beginning but today it is a deck that can be beaten by many different strategies.

In today’s article, I want to talk about Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel, a deck that I’ve analyzed here on PokeBeach in a past format. But with the recent victory of Azul Garcia Griego at NAIC, I think it’s important to take a closer look at this deck that can adapt from way you want to respond to the main threats of a given metagame.

Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel Skeleton List

Pokemon (14)

3x Arceus VSTAR (SWSH9 #123)4x Arceus V (SWSH9 #122)2x Bibarel (SWSH9 #121)2x Bidoof (SWSH9 #120)1x Crobat VMAX (SWSH45 #45)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Pumpkaboo (SWSH7 #76)

Trainers (23)

3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)3x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)2x Professor's Research (SWSH9 #147)1x Raihan (SWSH7 #152)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Ultra Ball (SWSH9 #150)2x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)1x Switch (SWSH1 #183)3x Path to the Peak (SWSH6 #148)

Energy (11)

7x Darkness Energy (DP #129)3x Double Turbo Energy (SWSH9 #151)1x Capture Energy (SWSH2 #171)

With this skeleton list, you have a good Arceus VSTAR deck and you have up to 12 card spaces to prepare against the biggest threats in the metagame. The reason I kept the 1-1 Crobat VMAX line in this deck list is because Crobat V is an essential Pokemon for setting up in your early turns or making a strong play in the late game. The amount of games I would have lost would be huge if I didn’t have Crobat V and the amount of games I lost because of it was certainly much smaller. Since the deck has Crobat V, it has complete freedom to use basic Energy cards of any type thanks to Arceus VSTAR. Mew VMAX will be a strong deck until the end of its life in the current Standard format, so it is practically impossible not to use such a tech strong and well-fitted for this deck like the Crobat VMAX.

Single prize Pokemon considered important for Arceus VSTAR such as Dunsparce and Manaphy can be used but it will totally depend on the metagame, and it will also depend on the Pokemon V that you choose to partner with Arceus VSTAR. If you choose to play only Arceus VSTAR as an attacker, then you will need to use Dunsparce and a couple of copies of Cheren's Care. You only won’t need Cheren’s Care if the Pokemon V you choose to pair up with Arceus VSTAR is capable of taking a Knock Out on the opponent’s Pokemon VSTAR in one attack, such as Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX or Lucario VSTAR, used by Pedro Pertusi to win the Joinville Regional Championships. Manaphy will only be a good addition if Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX is popular in the metagame, something that was happening until the last format. In the current format, this Pokemon has disappeared a little because Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR can count on Radiant Greninja, which in addition to having an incredible draw Ability, has an attack similar to G-Max Rapid Flow and can be performed easily thanks to Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR’s Ability: Star Portal. In most cases, Radiant Greninja will do the same thing as you aim to do with Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, the main one being taking Knock Outs on two Sobble or two opponent’s Drizzile. However, specifically against Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel, Radiant Greninja’s damage is insufficient to knock out Bibarel, something that Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX can do.

Arceus VSTAR is a very complete Pokemon that offers plenty of good combinations, but in the current format the main highlight of this Pokemon is being able to play together with another Pokemon important to the metagame, such as Flying Pikachu VMAX and still being able to use Path to the Peak without harming your own strategy. This stadium has been famous for being one of the best techs to beat Mew VMAX, but now it also stands out for disabling Radiant Greninja’s Ability too. Whether in an Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR / Inteleon deck or in a Turbo Mew / Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR, Radiant Greninja has increasingly proved to be one of the strongest cards in the format, mainly due to its above-average draw Ability.

Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX Deck List


Pokemon (19)

4x Arceus V (SWSH9 #122)3x Arceus VSTAR (SWSH9 #123)3x Flying Pikachu V (CEL #6)2x Flying Pikachu VMAX (CEL #7)2x Bidoof (SWSH9 #120)2x Bibarel (SWSH9 #121)1x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)1x Crobat VMAX (SWSH45 #45)1x Pumpkaboo (SWSH7 #76)

Trainers (29)

4x Marnie (SWSH1 #200)2x Professor's Research (SWSH9 #147)2x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)2x Cheren's Care (SWSH9 #168)1x Roxanne (SWSH10 #150)1x Raihan (SWSH7 #152)1x Phoebe (SWSH5 #130)1x Pal Pad (ULP #132)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)2x Evolution Incense (SWSH1 #163)1x Switch (RSK #91)4x Path to the Peak (SWSH6 #148)

Energy (12)

4x Lightning Energy (GUR #168)3x Darkness Energy (SWSH7 #236)1x Capture Energy (SWSH2 #171)4x Double Turbo Energy (SWSH9 #151)
It’s true that the format has a lot of deck options, but if you look closely at the recent results of the top Standard format tournaments with the new Astral Radiance set, there are only three decks that really stand out in results and popularity, which are Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon, Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR / Inteleon, and Mew VMAX. Apart from these three decks, what exists in the format are a lot of decks with very different strategies, which may seem very good on paper, but in the end they all lose a lot in consistency. Some of them have very predictable strategies and can be easily beaten such as Blissey V / Miltank, the Regi deck led by Regigigas, Rapid Strike Malamar, and Stonjourner VMAX.

Having only three key decks to worry about, creating an Arceus VSTAR / Bibarel deck combined with a metagame-friendly Pokemon (such as Flying Pikachu VMAX) can be a good option. To beat Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, Flying Pikachu VMAX for a number of reasons proved to be the best combination for Arceus VSTAR, while against Mew VMAX the deck has the well-known Crobat VMAX. To win or at least compete against Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon, this deck list has two copies of Cheren's Care and one copy of Pal Pad. With these top three matchups in mind, it makes a lot of sense that Azul Garcia Griego would have won the North America International Championships with this list, even though none of these three matchups are an autowin. On the contrary, they are all even matchups or only have a small advantage. What will make the most difference in these matchups will be your training time in playing against these key juggernauts, as there is a big learning curve with this deck. There are decks with simpler strategies where you learn everything in a few games and there are decks that take a little longer to extract the most potential.

Flying Pikachu VMAX is an International Champion

If you do a quick search to see what Electric-type Pokemon options are available in the current Standard format, you’ll realize that there aren’t that many good options. Of course, there are several Pokemon that serve very well to Knock Out an Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, but dedicating a part of your Arceus VSTAR deck just for that doesn’t justify the addition. The electric Pokemon chosen along with Arceus VSTAR needs to do more for the deck than just help with one matchup. Among the available options, the Pokemon that caught my attention the most were Tapu Koko VMAX and Raikou V, in addition to Flying Pikachu VMAX and Surfing Pikachu VMAX.

Tapu Koko VMAX has an attack that can directly paralyze the opponent if you’re down on Prizes, which is very good, but in practice this effect doesn’t happen that much. You’re not always letting your opponent take Prizes first, because the Arceus VSTAR deck list doesn’t even have the characteristic of starting the game on the back foot. It’s a deck that promotes competition from start to finish, most of the time it has balanced matches where you never know who’s going to be winning or losing in the Prize race.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!